Roland D.VI (Windsock Datafile 37)
By Peter M. Grosz
Publisher: Albatros Productions Ltd 1993 41 Pages
PDF 21 MB
The clinker-built fuselage had its precursor in the handsome longboats sailed by Vikings many centuries before and, in fact, to this day clinker-built hulls are still popular with boat builders. Initially, Roland had pioneered the semi-monocoque fuselage consisting of alternating layers of cross-laid veneer strips reinforced by a fabric covering (Roland C.II, D.I and D.ll) that found its ultimate expression in the Pfalz D.III and D.XlP fighters. In search of a lighter alternative, Roland engineer Reinhold Richter conceived the clinker-built (or lapstrake) construction technique that resulted in a fuselage of equal strength but of 'appreciably less weight'. The overlapping wooden strakes of wedge-shaped cross-section provided sufficient longitudinal stiffness and strength. The strake's thickness could be tapered to provide extra strength around the aircraft's nose as required. During assembly, the strakes were overlapped for approximately half their breadth, glued and nailed lengthwise to the fuselage frames and longerons. A final fabric covering was unnecessary. The clinker construction required less time to assemble than a similar, wrapped fuselage and was lighter, an important factor in fighter design. Richter's invention first appeared in the Roland D.IV triplane fighter of September 1917 which was destroyed before flight testing could be completed. The lapstrake fuselage was common to all Roland fighter prototypes beginning with the D.VI and ending with the D.XV.